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Alison Rose Levy

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America the Entertained: Robert F. Kennedy Jr and the State of Democracy

Posted: 04/16/08 01:52 PM ET

"Most Americans know more about Britney Spears than we do about global warming," Robert F. Kennedy told the thousand people gathered at last weekend's annual Being Fearless conference, hosted by the Omega Institute.

Forty years ago when the boomer generation saw its heroes gunned down one-two-three (JFK, MLK, RFK), many hung up the marching shoes and turned towards the inner journey. If we couldn't face a scary world, at least we could control our own minds. Like Big Sur's Esalen, the Omega Institute served as a safe place to escape the modern maelstrom, find community, and rediscover inner resources.

But as third generation self-help advice proliferates on the internet, many maturing seekers recognize the it's not enough to heal ourselves, we have to face the fear, and take action to heal the world that is.

"This is the worst administration in American history--it's put the worst polluters in charge of all areas of government" Robert F. Kennedy Jr told the conference attendees. As Kennedy, Valerie Plame Wilson, and others modeled a caring, balanced, and integral activism, they nudged the self-help movement out of its chrysalis and into the us-in-action movement. The recurring message was: "You have to speak truth to power. You must act."

Back in my parent's day, Kennedys in their prime were entrusted to lead, due to their rare ability to marry hope with competency and offer an accurate diagnosis and cure for our national ills.

In today's harsh world, the Kennedy warrior of this generation is critiqued, maligned, ridiculed, and often censured by the mainstream news media when he offers an accurate (though discomfiting) analysis of environmental rollbacks, public health care policy, and their attendant health impacts. When Kennedy gave New York Times' editors an array of DNA, animal, epidemiological, and biological studies that document the link between mercury and neurological disorders, they were so "hostile and antagonistic it was like talking to a brick wall," Kennedy reported. In the past, the news media looked for investigative pieces. Today they look the other way, uncritically accepting government studies.

"The US has privatized safety research and by extension, the regulation of toxins. Expecting objectivity under these conditions is naïve at best," says Kennedy, one of the few to connect the dots as:

• Campaign contributors are given posts in oversight of the industries they represent, where they
• Rewrite governmental regulations to protect their industry rather than the public good, resulting in:
• Environmental pollution, misuse of resources, and health care polices harmful to childhood and adult health

"We need to protect the environment not because we love trees--but because we love people," Kennedy points out. A believing Catholic he questions those who thump the bible, and go on to plunder and pollute the Creation for cash.

The multiple crises we face all occur because vested media conglomerates have replaced a watchdog press, Kennedy says.

Goodbye to investigative journalism, foreign news bureaus, and fair reporting. Hello to misinformation, one-sided spins and cheap entertainment, appealing to the reptilian brain.

What happened? As part of the right to use public airwaves, network television was formerly mandated to provide news coverage even at an economic loss, Kennedy reminds us. But that ended in 1988, when Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine, which permitted broadcasters to cut back their news divisions and abdicate their responsibility to inform. Today, the CBS news bureau which formerly boasted Edward R. Murrow and others, is rumored to be seeking to outsource its reporting to CNN.

"We're the most entertained, and least well informed country on earth." Kennedy told the crowd. "Misinformation undermines democracy," as 30% of Americans get their information from biased talk radio.

The boomer generation has to face facts: on our watch, this country took a very bad turn. The time has come to second activists like Kennedy and make our numbers count. In the allied areas of the organic food movement, integrative health care, health care policy reform, environmental activism, food and agricultural policy, media reform, election and judicial activism and other key arenas, many are carrying the meditation cushion into activism.

For environmental activism, join Robert F. Kennedy Jr at the Natural Resources Defense Council www.nrdc.org If you want to join Deepak Chopra and other health leaders for caring/proactive health care and public policy--and a healthier world, please sign up for the Better Health Campaign at: www.health-journalist.com


 
 
 

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